The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a notification (pdf) to Vodafone directing it to stop using the 111 number to offer customer services as it violates the national numbering plan and asked the operator to submit a compliance report by March 10.

The notification added that the department of telecom had issued the national numbering plan 2003 wherein the number 111 to 115 have not been allocated for any type of services and have been kept as ‘spare’. The telecom regulator also found Vodafone advertisements on the company’s website urging customer s to call 111 to get internet settings on their handsets for pre-paid data offers, post-paid data packs, self-help for data services and Blackberry internet offers.

Trai added that it had issued a show cause notice and Vodafone in its reply had said the 111 number has been in use by them for 18-20 years  and that they were in genuine belief that there was no restriction in the use of level 111 since the number was already under valid use prior to 2003 as a common customer care number across all their circles. Vodafone further added that hey have been transparently filing their annual compliance with the Authority in regards to the use of this level for their customer help services since 2007.

Trai however following review of the response said that “by using level ‘111’ without the permission of the licensor, the service provider has contravened the national numbering plan and filing annual compliance report to the regulations of the Authority cannot be treated as authorisation to use level ‘111’.”